Manager Dougie Samuel singled out praise for Scott Maxwell after the midfielder turned in a man-of-the-match display as Spartans thrashed Whitehill Welfare 5-0 to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Football Nation Qualifying Cup.
The 27-year-old has been plagued by injury this season but made a telling impact in Rosewell as the Ainslie Park men saw off their arch-rivals on a surface that wasn’t conducive to free-flowing football.
It did take the visitors until the 37th minute to break the deadlock however, defender Blair Tolmie heading in an inviting Craig Stevenson cross beyond Connar Easton in the Whitehill goal.
Jason Stevens was making his first start for Spartans following his move from Vale of Leithen last week and he made an immediate impression as he crossed for Maxwell to add a second right on the stroke of half-time.
Any aspirations the hosts had of finding a route back into the game were quickly dashed as Scott Lucas’s trip on Ian McFarland nine minutes after the restart gave Ross Allum the opportunity from 12 yards, and the former Edinburgh City striker duly stuck away the resulting spot-kick.
Easton did brilliantly to deny Allum twice when through on goal but he could do nothing about Ross Guthrie’s excellent turn and shot that nestled in the bottom corner for Spartans’ fourth of the afternoon.
Jack Wright picked up a second booking with three minutes remaining that saw Whitehill reduced to ten men before David Greenhill’s header from a Jamie Dishington cross wrapped things up.
Samuel was able to draw on a lot of positives from his side’s energetic display but felt Maxwell was head and shoulders above the rest.
“We were able to get minutes into Maxi which was really pleasing,” the Spartans boss noted afterwards. “His game intelligence and movement in the second half was fantastic. He naturally drops into that No.10 area and his ball retention was excellent. It says a lot about his character.
“He’s had a couple of injuries this season so we’ve had to be careful with him as each time he has come back he’s broken down.
“Because of the nature of the games we’ve had recently it’s been difficult to get him minutes but that will have done him the world of good.
“There are a lot of positives for us to take away from the game. It was important for us to tighten up defensively so we’re really pleased with the clean sheet. We rolled our sleeves up on a difficult surface and showed a real appetite for the game.”
Whitehill head coach Gary Small felt his players’ heads went down all too quickly.
“They scored their first in the 37th minute and up until then I didn’t think we looked to be in too much trouble,” he said. “We weren’t creating enough but I knew that was going to be the case. They were poor goals we conceded and I think when it went to three it knocked the wind out of our sails.
“We lost Ryan McKenzie, our club captain, just a couple of hours before kick-off to the sickness bug and he’s hugely important to us. But that’s not an excuse and it would be too easy to say that.”
Elsewhere in the Football Nation Qualifying Cup, East of Scotland League champions Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale edged out Hawick Royal Albert 2-1 in their third-round tie at Saughton Enclosure, Jamie Devlin and Willis Hare with the goals for the Capital outfit.
Tynecastle’s game with Vale of Leithen had to be abandoned at half-time with the score level at 1-1 due to the deteriorating conditions of the pitch.